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Update on the latest in sports:

April 2, 2019


Harper is back in DC

UNDATED (AP) — Tonight marks Bryce Harper’s initial visit to Nationals Park as a member of the Phillies to face his former team. And he’ll be facing Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Philadelphia enters as baseball’s only undefeated team, 3-and-0 after pummeling the Braves at home — an effort helped by two long home runs from Harper.

Harper posted a “Thank you” message to Nationals fans and the city of Washington on Instagram, hours before his first game against his former team. Harper spent his first seven major league seasons in Washington before leaving as a free agent and signing with the Phillies in March for $330 million over 13 years.

The Nationals offered him much less money, with millions that would be deferred for decades.

He wrote that he is “sure to hear some boos” at tonight’s game, but says he will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with him as he starts his new chapter.

Elsewhere in the majors:

— Red Sox lefty Chris Sale makes his second start after getting thumped by Seattle in Boston’s opener. Sale allowed seven runs and three homers over three innings, looking rusty after getting a lighter workload in spring training. The Red Sox hoped that limiting their starters early might make them more effective late in the year, but Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello all got hit hard the first time through the rotation. Sale will face Oakland’s Mike Fiers, who is already making his third start this season, including during a two-game series in Tokyo.

Also on the schedule:

Detroit at N.Y. Yankees.

Milwaukee at Cincinnati.

Baltimore at Toronto.

Colorado at Tampa Bay.

N.Y. Mets at Miami.

Houston at Texas.

Minnesota at Kansas City.

L.A. Angels at Seattle.

Arizona at San Diego.

San Francisco at L.A. Dodgers.


Braves agree to 8-year deal with Acuna

UNDATED (AP) — Outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a $100 million, eight-year contract, the largest deal for a player under club control with less than one year of major league service.

The NL Rookie of the Year, Acuña agreed to a deal with two team options that, if exercised, would raise the value to $124 million over 10 years.

He made his major league debut last April 25 and began Tuesday with 165 days of service. Acuña would have been eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

In other baseball news:

— Outfielder Kevin Pillar was traded by the veteran-shedding Toronto Blue Jays to the San Francisco Giants for infielder Alen Hanson, right-hander Derek Law and minor league pitcher Juan De Paula. Pillar had been Toronto’s longest-tenured player, in his seventh season with the Blue Jays. Known for stellar defense in center field, the 30-year-old has a .260 average with 55 home runs and 231 RBIs in 695 games. Pillar has a $5.8 million salary and can become a free agent after the 2020 season.

— Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor (lihn-DOHR’) will miss more time because of a sprained left ankle that has delayed his season debut. Lindor was making a steady recovery from a strained right calf when he injured his ankle running the bases during a minor league scrimmage last week in Arizona. He visited a specialist on Monday as his teammates won their home opener without him.

— Former baseball star Lenny Dykstra has pleaded guilty to illegally renting out rooms in a New Jersey house owned by his corporation. The case is the latest in a series of legal issues for Dykstra, who has served prison time on charges including bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.


Nuggets visit Warriors

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The top two teams in the NBA’s Western Conference match up tonight as the Denver Nuggets visit the Golden State Warriors. Denver has been struggling down the stretch, losing three of its last five games.

Tonight’s other NBA action finds the Lakers at Oklahoma City, Atlanta at San Antonio and the Houston Rockets at Sacramento.


Ernie Grunfeld fired as president of the Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ernie Grunfeld has been fired as president of the Washington Wizards after 16 seasons in charge of the team. The Wizards announced his dismissal on Tuesday with four games left in a disappointing, no-playoffs season.

Washington is 32-46 and in 11th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference. The club went 568-724 during Grunfeld’s tenure with eight postseason appearances. But Washington never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

Tommy Sheppard will take over Grunfeld’s duties for now and will be a candidate to replace him permanently.


Battle for wild card spots plays out

UNDATED (AP) — Two points separate three teams battling for a pair of wild card slots in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and all three are in action tonight.

The Columbus Blue Jackets host the Boston Bruins. The Carolina Hurricanes, one point behind Columbus, play at Toronto. And the Montreal Canadiens, sitting one point out of the second wild-card spot, host league-leading Tampa Bay.

Two teams in contention for the second Western Conference wild card spot are also in action tonight -- Colorado hosts Edmonton, while Arizona, two points behind, is at home against Los Angeles.

In other NHL action:

Nashville at Buffalo.

Pittsburgh at Detroit.

Winnipeg at Minnesota.

Philadelphia at Dallas.

San Jose at Vancouver.


Watson to return to Predators for 1st time since suspension

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson is returning to the lineup for the first time since he was suspended by the NHL more than two months ago for alcohol abuse. Coach Peter Laviolette (lah-vee-uh-LET’) announced Watson will play in Nashville’s game Tuesday night in Buffalo. The decision comes two days after Watson was recalled from the minors, where he scored four goals in two games with AHL Milwaukee.

Watson has missed 27 games since being suspended on Jan. 29. He entered the second stage of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program because of what the NHL and the players’ union described as “ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.” Watson began the season serving an 18-game suspension after pleading no contest to a domestic assault charge in July. His girlfriend issued a statement in October taking blame for the incident in the parking lot of a gas station.


Duke freshmen Williamson, Barrett top AP All-America team

UNDATED (AP) — Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett are the second freshman teammates to earn first-team All-America honors.

Williamson and Barrett headed The Associated Press All-America team released on Tuesday, joined by Tennessee’s Grant Williams, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Cassius Winston of Michigan State.

The Blue Devils’ duo are the 11th pair of teammates to be named to the AP first team and first freshman teammates since Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall in 2010.

Williamson electrified college basketball with his array of massive dunks and soaring blocks, earning unanimous selection to the first team from 64 voters. He averaged 22.1 points while Barrett scored 22.9 per game.

Morant, who led the nation with 10 assists per game, is the first Murray State player to be a first-team AP All-American.


Boston College star Ky Bowman declaring for NBA draft

BOSTON (AP) — Ky Bowman is foregoing his senior season at Boston College and declaring for the NBA draft.

The point guard announced his decision on Instagram, calling it a lifelong dream to play in the NBA and expressed gratitude to his teammates and coaches at BC.

Bowman was an Associated Press All-ACC first-team selection this season. He averaged 19 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists in an NCAA-high 39.4 minutes per game for an Eagles team that finished 14-17.

Bowman also put his name in for draft consideration following last season but did not sign with an agent and eventually returned to school. He is expected sign with representation this time around.


AP Source: AAF suspending operations 8 games into season

UNDATED (AP) — The Alliance of American Football is suspending operations eight games into its first season.

A person with knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press the eight-team spring football league is not folding, but games will not be played this weekend. The decision was made by majority owner Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

The league was co-founded by former NFL executive Bill Polian and television and film producer Charlie Ebersol.

The AAF aspired to be a league for players with NFL hopes, but it could not reach agreement with the NFLPA to use players at the end of NFL rosters.


Chris Harris Jr. skips start of Broncos offseason program

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. skipped the start of the Denver Broncos’ offseason program. Harris is angling for a new contract. General manager John Elway is expected to begin negotiations with Harris’ agent by summertime. One of the NFL’s most versatile defensive backs, Harris is due $7.8 million next season in the final year of his team friendly, five-year, $42.5 million contract that he signed in 2015.

The perennial Pro Bowl selection who is equally adept at playing the slot, on the outside or even at safety has said since the end of last season that he doesn’t want to play in 2019 without an extension.

In other NFL news:

-The Arizona Cardinals have signed cornerback Tramaine Brock to a one-year contract. The 30-year-old Brock has played nine NFL seasons with Denver, Minnesota and San Francisco. He played seven seasons with the 49ers after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Belhaven College in 2010. Brock had a career-high five interceptions in 2013 and played 12 games with the Broncos last season, finishing with 21 tackles and six passes defended.


Most states’ sports betting revenue misses estimates

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An Associated Press analysis shows that the tax revenue from sports betting has so far failed to hit projections in most of the states that legalized wagering after the Supreme Court cleared the way last year.

Only New Jersey and Delaware are bringing in the money they expected. Mississippi, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are falling short.

The reasons vary by state, from slower-than-expected rollouts and the unavailability in some places of mobile betting, to an all-too-predictable Super Bowl. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl again — and covered the spread, too — all of New England was delirious, with the possible exception of Rhode Island’s tax collectors.

The state’s sportsbooks lost $2.35 million when they paid out on the winning bets. That, in turn, cut into Rhode Island’s tax revenue.